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Anorexia/Eating Disorders/Eating disorder recovery and CONFUSED!


QUESTION: Hi! You can call me M, and I'm a girl that is 17 years old. I started my eating disorder in 2010 that summer and restricted calories a lot.. I was 5'4 about 115 to 117 pounds. I started a raw vegan diet and at first I ate healthy and effortlessly dropped down to 105 pounds eating 1500 cals or so per day but then had overwhelming fear of gaining the weight back and went down to 700 to 1000 calories a day. This lasted from December to August the next year and my weight went down to 93 pounds. Then I realized I had a problem because of the constant ed thoughts and decided to eat more but it scared me. I quickly gained to 100s and I freaked cuz I only ate 1700 cals and below for like a week.. I stopped eating more and stopped eating All fruits and sugar because I thought I had candid and restricted to 1000 to 1400 at the most near the end for the whole year after. This August I realized I needed to recover because I had gained to 110 pounds eating 1200 a day w exercise and it wa
sn't normal! I started eating more and gained quickly on less than 2000 calories up to 115. Then I read about needing more for metabolism so now I've been up to 2500 or so. I am now 2 months later 127 pounds and its so overwhelming  and I'm worried I should eat less.... Could I have really damaged my organs? If so why do tbi jave thT hypermetabolism some people get? I havent stopped gaining. I haven had a period in 2 .5 years either. I am hungry often and on a whole foods diet too! I have so much gas and bloating too (I've had for years) help? Should I be going back to 1800 at this point? I feel so guilty!! .( tthanks so much! Xo and also im so upset because even after eating more the last 2 months my metabolism hasn't stabilized and my weight consistently going up even though i'm bigger than ive ever been in my life!!


I am so sorry you are going through this. You have a number of questions embedded in there, so I will address each one separately.

1) Could you have damaged your organs?
Maybe. Were you purging or just restricting food? In the 2 years we are talking about, purging would likely have caused more damage than starvation to your organs. More likely, this is a metabolism issue.

2) Is it a metabolism issue (hyper- or hypo-)?

Maybe. When we diet, our bodies go into starvation mode. As a result, our metabolism slows way down (by up to 45%) in an effort to hold onto every calorie we take in. After we stop dieting, our metabolism will increase, but probably not to the level it was before we started dieting in the first place. Given your bout with anorexia is so recent, your metabolism has likely not recovered to 'normal' yet.

3) How many calories should you be eating?

That depends on your age, gender, activity level, etc. You didn't say what your diet looks like right now (other than whole foods), but a good place to start is to create a dietary plan using the following website: Enter your weight, age, height, exercise schedule, etc. and it will tell you what you should be eating.

4) Why am I experiencing all the gas and bloating?

You mentioned problems with candida before. Did you ever get that confirmed? Given your bout with calorie restriction, you may have developed some intolerances to certain food groups (e.g., wheat, dairy, sugar). This could also explain the gas, bloating, weight gain, and feeling of always being hungry. You can find out which foods you are allergic to by either getting a blood test or by going on an elimination diet to see which foods flare your symptoms (or both).

I have used all of these in the past:

1) This one has been around forever and is really good for meat eaters - - it's what I used when I first discovered I was hypoglycemic and had yeast overgrowth/candida

2) This one is primarily vegetarian - at least at first -

3) The other option would be to do a vegan, semi-raw diet - I love the Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier  

Please let me know if you need any more information or if you run into a snag or if I missed anything. Good luck!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hmm I'm not eating dairy or wheat.. I didn't purge just restricted. So u think my organs are okay? Also my period just started today which is amazing!!! First time in 2.5 years!! i feel like I'm over my normal setpoint weight though. Is there a way to get it back down without restricting? Should I be eating more calories than normal to repair or should I just eat and exercise like normal now ? Thanks!!!

Hi M,

I am so glad that your period finally returned. That is a great sign! I think your organs are probably fine. I think your weight is actually healthy for your height, especially if you are still growing. If you'd feel more comfortable being back at 115 to 117 though, here is the "magic formula" for healthy weight loss.

Okay, you said you are currently at 127. Divide your weight by 100; thatís how many pounds you should expect to lose each week. If you weigh 127 pounds, you can expect to lose 1.27 pounds per week. One pound is the equivalent of 3500 calories. So if you want to lose 1.27 pounds per week, you need to burn 4445 calories per week. But you can't do that by just cutting calories because that will send your body back into starvation mode and lower your metabolism leading to a weight loss plateau and mess up your metabolism even further than it already is .... To overcome this, you need to divide your number of calories into two -  2222.5 in this case. To lose 1.27 pounds per week, you need to eat 2222.5 fewer calories per week (that's 317.5 fewer calories per day on average) and burn 2222.5 calories per week via exercise (again that's 317.5 calories burned by exercise each day on average).

I still recommend that you create a dietary plan using the following website: Enter YOUR GOAL WEIGHT, age, height, etc. and it will tell you what you should be eating.

To determine how much you need to exercise each day, check out this list, which gives the number of calories you will burn doing different activities based on your body weight:

Hope that helps!

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Mary Pritchard


I can answer questions about the psychology of eating, disordered eating attitudes and behaviors such as drive for thinness, drive for muscularity, binge eating, body dysmorphia, dieting, excessive/obsessive exercise, and body dissatisfaction. I can also answer questions about anorexia and bulimia.


I have a PhD in Psychology and teach courses in the Psychology of Health and the Psychology of Eating. I have been conducting research on disordered eating and exercise behaviors for 15 years.

Midwestern psychological association, rocky mountain psychological association

Over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in journals such as Eating Behaviors, Eating Disorders, and Eating and Weight Disorders

PhD in Psychology from the University of Denver

Awards and Honors
30 teaching awards, have received funding to conduct my research from academic institutions and state and local government

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